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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Notre Dame Offer Extra Special For 2026 OL Sam Utu

May 20, 2023

Samuelu Utu‍ had his mother nervous when the 2026 California offensive lineman phoned her during the schoolday last Wednesday.

“Her first initial reaction was, 'Are you OK? Did something happen? What's wrong?'” he recalls. “Because most of the time I don't usually get to call during school, so this kind of caught her off guard a little bit.

“I was like, 'Mom, you won't believe this.' And she said, 'What happened? Are you OK? What's wrong?'”

Nothing was wrong at all.

“I said, 'I just got an offer from Notre Dame,'” Utu says. “From there, she just started crying.”

Utu had to try to stop himself from crying as well.

“I was trying to hold back my emotions too,” he says. “I didn't want to look a whole mess going back upstairs to the student union and getting all these questions about what was going on. So I tried to keep my composure.”

The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder from Orange Lutheran High School landed the offer after a stop at the school by Irish assistant Gino Guidugli. He also has offers from schools like USC, Michigan, Texas, Nebraska, Miami, Colorado, Utah, Cal, Tennessee, Arizona, Arizona State, BYU and SMU among others.

But the Irish offer was certainly extra special.

“I watched them growing up as a kid with my mom,” he says. “She is a really big Notre Dame fan. I do remember her words clearly that if I were to go to Notre Dame, she would move out there for me.”

Utu says he was shaking himself when he learned of the news.

“That was probably one of the best experiences I've had,” he says. “The best part about that was calling my mom and letting her know about the big news.”

It’s early, but Notre Dame is clearly one of his top schools right now.

“We're trying to schedule some visit during the summer for Notre Dame,” he says. “I'm really excited because I got to hear about the campus and what it's like.”

He’s already made trips to USC and UCLA and would like to get to Colorado, Tennessee, Ohio State and Oklahoma as well as Notre Dame in the future.

“When it comes to school, I really want a culture that is authentic,” he says. “I am blessed with the fact that I am loved and supported by my peers and coaches. Coming into high school at Orange Lutheran as a freshman, things aren't always going to be easy. So just knowing that I have a good coaching staff behind me, a really good friend group, and my faith really helps keep me grounded.

“So when it comes to looking for schools, I love the aspect of great academics and great athletics. OLu is both of those things and that just really helped shape what I want in a college.”

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